Q&A with Monica de Janosi, co-chairwoman of the New Castle Beautification Advisory Board. The volunteer board advises on, formulates and promotes programs to enhance the beauty and appearance of New Castle.
Q: How long has the Beautification Advisory Board been in existence?
A: Officially, the BAB was established on Jan. 24, 1989. However, I do recall that we did have a BAB in the mid-’80s, when I first joined, and then I rejoined in 2001 after a six-year absence living abroad.
Q: How are the projects funded?
A: The town provides us with an annual budget. Due to the current recession, this amount has been greatly reduced and we need to raise our own funds.
Q: The BAB is spearheading the Commemorative Bench Project as a fundraiser. Can you give us some details?
A: We are beginning this program by “adopting out” about 27 of the town’s green benches. Individuals or organizations can be honored or remembered with a personally inscribed brass plaque. Each solid brass plaque is 3-by-6 and would be bolted on to the back of each bench. One of our members, Edith Glass, thought that we in New Castle could follow the success of similar programs carried out in Central Park and at the New York Botanical Gardens.
Those interested in learning more about the project can contact Town Hall liaison Penny Paderewski (914-238-7261 or firstname.lastname@example.org.), and she will contact me or Phyllis Furnari, the other co-chair.
Q: How much would it cost?
A: Those benches at the Citibank Park, Town Hall or at the Top of the Hill Memorial Green (near Talbots) would cost $2,500, while the remainder would each be $2,000. The funds will go toward helping to beautify the town.
Q: Tell us about some projects the board has undertaken in the past.
A: We have sponsored Clean-up Day each spring, initiated the “Neat to the Street” program, encouraged the building of pedestrian sidewalks on Route 120. We also worked on the legislation of outdoor restaurant/cafes, planting of the containers and the cleaning-up of some of the larger retail and station parking areas.
Q: What’s the board’s vision for the future?
A: The BAB continues to lend our voice to the Downtown Steering Committee, dealing with plantings on and around the new bridge, improving design elements, curbing issues, traffic flow and the need for a much better-looking and cleaner downtown area. We are also going to award those residents and merchants who are individually making a concerted effort in beautifying the town by sending them newly designed “thank you” cards. It’s just a little sign of recognition to those trying to make a difference!
Edited and condensed from an interview with staff writer Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy.